It may be option expiration day (always leading to abnormal market activity) but it remains all about the weak dollar, which after crashing in the two days after the Fed's surprisingly dovish statement has put both the ECB and the BOJ in the very awkward position that shortly after both banks have drastically eased, the Euro and the Yen are now trading stronger relative to the dollar versus prior. As DB puts it, "the US Dollar has tumbled in a fairly impressive fashion since the FOMC on Wednesday with the Dollar spot index now down the most over a two-day period since 2009" which naturally hurts those countries who have been rushing to debase their own currencies against the USD.
In a note that may have been quite prescient, BofA's HY strategist Michael Contopoulos released a note last night titled "Fed acknowledges global growth concerns… again", in which he said that "we have to admit; today’s dovish comments by Yellen took us by surprise" and adds that "although the market’s initial reaction was positive, we think the longer run impact of a very dovish message is bad for risk assets. In fact, we’re a bit amazed by the initial response from high yield today."
In the aftermath of the Fed's surprising dovish announcement, overnight there has been a rather sudden repricing of risk, which has seen European stocks and US equity futures stumble to roughly where they were when the Fed unveiled its dovish surprise, while the dollar collapse has continued, sparking deflationary fears resulting in treasury yields plunging even as gold soars, all hinting at another Fed policy error. So was that it for the Fed's latest intervention "halflife"? We don't know, but we expect much confusion today over whether even the Fed has now run out of dovish ammunition.
With the market already pricing in dramatically fewer rate-hikes that the "cheerleading" Fed, Deutsche Bank expects the USD to respond favorably to the FOMC’s signals on Wednesday, contrary to the pattern seen after the last four FOMC meetings with press conferences. While 'bankers' are clamoring for rate-hikes (warning of "consequences" should The Fed fail to deliver), Citi sees 5 of the 6 main drivers of Fed decision-making pointing to a hike... and an echo of Oct 2015's dip-and-rip.
Market breadth momentum contonues to weaken as the S&P 500 grinds higher, setting up a bearish outcome similar to the early November 2015 top. As BofAML's Stephen Suttmeier warns a break below channel support at 1989 would signal an interim top.
Today Janet Yellen and the FOMC will go back to square one and try to reset global expectations unleashed by the ill-fated December rate "policy mistake" hike, when at 2pm the Fed will announce assessment of the economy, even if not rate hike is expected today. Just like in December the Fed will be forced to telegraph that it is hiking rates as a signal of a strengthening US, and global, economy where "risks are balanced" and hope that the subsequent global reaction will not be a rerun of what happened in January and February when confusion about the Fed's intentions led to a global market rout.
While cnd concerns of a US recession have receded dramatically in the past month, no doubt in response to the price action in the markets, which have seen a 200 point surge in the S&P and a 50% rebound in oil, and instead all eyes are on the Fed, where "quantitative failure" is now the top concern among 18% of those polled.
While Asia was up on China's bad data, and Europe was higher again this morning to catch up for the Friday afternoon US surge, US equity futures may have finally topped off and are now looking at this week's critical data, namely the BOJ's decision tomorrow (where Kuroda is expected to do nothing), and the Fed's decision on Wednesday where a far more "hawkish announcement" than currently priced in by the market, as Goldman warned last night, is likely, in what would put an end to the momentum and "weak balance sheet" rally.
Locking It In. Since January, the spread between spot Brent prices and 2020 Brent prices has dropped nearly $8.00 to $10.71 per barrel, indicating selling in 2017, 2018, and 2019 futures contracts. According to Reuters, the majority of selling has come from E&Ps looking to lock in prices to hedge against a repeat of last year's second half commodity price route. At the same time, the hedges indicate a lack of confidence that the current commodity rally will continue.
"...markets have essentially lost confidence in the ability for central banks to stoke growth and inflation... we see very few reasons to be excited by today’s action or any development since the February 11th market lows."
"Risk assets about to top: ultimately markets about "rates" and "earnings", little else; central banks have played “rates card” as aggressively as they can; ECB done, BoJ has nothing in the tank, and any US macro strength will elicit Fed rate hike expectations (the Fed wants to tighten); EPS momentum simply not strong enough near-term to overwhelm Q2 risks of Brexit, BoJ failure, US politics, China debt deflation."
Less than 24 hours after European stocks tumbled on initial disappointment by Draghi's announcement that rates will not be cut further, mood has changed dramatically and the result has been that after "reassessing" the ECB kitchen sink stimulus, risk has soared overnight with both Asian and European stocks surging. As of this moment European bourses are all broadly higher led by banks, with the DAX and FTSE both up over 2.7%, while the Stoxx 600 is higher by 2.3% as of this writing.
Global stocks and U.S. equity futures are fractionally higher (unchanged really) this morning (despite China's historic NPL debt-for-equity proposal) as traders await the main event of the day: the ECB's 1:45pm CET announcement, more importantly what Mario Draghi will announce during the 2:30pm CET press conference, and most importantly, whether he will disappoint as he did in December or finally unleash the bazooka that the market has been desperately demanding.